Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Blame it on NBC

The photograph for this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, 1,000 Words, Take Two conjured up the following dialogue in my mind.

WordPress WWC

Him:    I’m going to miss you so much. It seems like only yesterday you got here completely unexpected and unannounced and gave me the best week I’ve had in I don’t know how long. Now I feel like I’m right back where I was seven days ago.

Her:     I know it’s not fair … I should never have come, but I panicked and ran and, well, you were the only person I could imagine being able to make me feel right. I know it was selfish of me and I’ll never forgive myself for it, but you have to believe me when I say I thought it would work out. It was so terrible.

Him:    Of course I understand. We go back a long way, we have a history. I’m as aware of that as you are. Don’t be so hard on yourself, we both knew it was a chance and we both agreed to take it. I’m still willing to give it a shot, but if you need something else I’ll be patient.

Her:     I can’t make any promises. All I know right now is that coming here to Europe was a mistake. I’ve put you in an emotional turmoil and I’ve loaded myself down with guilt on top of my sadness. I was so stupid.

Him:    It’s not all you fault; in fact it’s not your fault at all. You had every reason to believe something exciting and wonderful was in store for you after all your loyalty and dedication. You were anticipating the great outcome to things that you so deserved, and deserve still. But that wasn’t to be. You had the carpet pulled out from under you.

Her:     I know … it’s just that I feel so stupid. Not only for feeling the way I did, but for thinking it would all work if I came here. I never looked at it logically.

Him:    It’s okay … you were set up by what happened last summer. How were you to know? Really, don’t be so hard on yourself.

Her:     I feel much better when you say those things. I guess it’s natural that I should feel let down by the New England Patriots not making it to the Super Bowl, even though I watched every game they played this year and bought a bunch of Patriots souvenirs. When I ran here for consolation I thought I’d be ready to watch the game from here, a safe distance from the disappointment. With the Summer Olympics last year in London, NBC just did away with the time difference and made me believe we were all on the same time. But there’s no way I can watch the Super Bowl at 2:30 in the morning. I just can’t do it!

Him:    I understand … go on …take your tram to the airport and enjoy the game at a reasonable hour. I’ll be here …

Her:     You’re a great guy, even if you’re more of a soccer fan than an NFL follower. Enjoy your narrow European streets and cobblestone roads and years of history and culture.

Him:    Keep in touch.

Blogging, Books, Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Hope I’m not paid by the word

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: the Devil is in the Details gives me an opportunity to defend my tight writing style. So let me come at the theme  from a different angle. It’s a matter of degrees, in fact about 180°. I’m not a big fan of lengthy, flowery, detail-laden writing; I’m economical with words – maybe even cheap. I much prefer Hemingway to Dickens and Simenon to Proust. However, in keeping with the theme I will try, using as many details as I can, to illustrate why I’m not a detail writer.

“A woman walks into a restaurant” – okay, I’m good with that – next. I‘d rather the author got on with the narrative than spent several paragraphs describing things. I like to think readers have their own imaginations and for each of them the restaurant will be different based on their own experiences. For this same reason I don’t like when authors, or anyone for that matter, read from a novel. I understand it is a great honor to have so-and-so read from their best-selling work. But I already have the characters’ voices in my head. I don’t want to be thrown a curve by an author who uses a different accent for a favorite character of mine when reading from his or her book. I believe the reading of books is a personal thing. But I digress.

“Outside the temperature is below freezing, and the restaurant is overheated and crowded, a victim of its own recent success due primarily to a glowing review in a local newspaper. The steam on her glasses renders her blind as she attempts to find her husband who is waiting for her. She stands still hoping her glasses will clear before she walks into someone or worse, knocks over a tray of drinks. Suddenly she is taken aback as her glasses come off and now her vision is blurred not by steam, but by her severe myopia. Before she can react a kind voice says ‘Let me rescue you darling, I knew this would happen’ as her husband wipes her glasses, hands them back to her and leads her to their table.”

I’d prefer:

“A woman walks into a hot restaurant on a freezing night and because it is so hot and crowded her glasses fog up. She doesn’t want to bump into anyone so she stands still before looking for her husband. But he is a step ahead of her and takes her glasses, wipes them off and shows her to their table.”

That’s 125 words in the first version and 60 in the second. I realize that if I were paid by the word I’d be in a pickle, but that’s just me!

History, Music, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: John Lennon’s (Just Like) Starting Over

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge topic is “Starting Over”. The term “Starting Over” always brings to my mind the song by John Lennon (Just Like) Starting Over.  It was released as a single on 24 October 1980 and reached number one in both the USA and UK two weeks after he was murdered. Many people have pointed out that his murder was even more poignant in light of this song in which he writes about wanting to embark upon a new beginning with Yoko Ono after some difficult years.

Why don’t we take off alone
Take a trip somewhere far, far away
We’ll be together all alone again
Like we used to in the early days
Well, well, well darling

In the UK the single had peaked at number 8 in the charts and had fallen to position number 21 before Lennon’s death propelled it to number one, making an unprecedented number 21 to number 1 move! (Although witty, all references to the song having been number 21 with a bullet will be left out of this post.)


Humor, Montreal, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: Google Maps for the homebody and a Big Bang Theory explanation

For this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge the topic is Map it Out. When we think of Google Maps or Google Earth it often invokes images of exotic places or foreign countries. But as a proud homebody the Google Earth application provides a pretty picture of my residences since birth. As the map below illustrates, I’ve not strayed any farther than a nine-iron into the wind since coming home from the hospital as a baby.


People are often surprised when they learn of my penchant for proximity, but I have all I need close at hand. I think it is best summed up by the Dr. Sheldon Cooper character in an episode of The Big Bang Theory when he said:

Penny: Okay, that’s fine, but let’s try and get you out of your comfort zone.

Sheldon: Why would we want to do that? It’s called the comfort zone for a reason.

Uncategorized, Weekly Writing Challenge

Kate and Wills’ Tweets help out with Weekly Writing Challenge

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge posed the following: We’re challenging you to explore how different narrative modes affect your writing.  As someone who writes almost entirely in the first person, and rarely writes fiction, I thought I’d take a shot at weaving two sets of first person narratives  into a modern day epistolary – thus below a short news announcement using Tweets instead of traditional letters. As I wrote both sides of the conversation, the narrative is most definitely unreliable!

I thought I’d ask my buddies Will and Kate for their take on blogging narrative modes, but they seemed preoccupied. Mind you they did throw in the Royal We concept. (They may have even used more than 140 characters…)


Please note that no Royals were used nor harmed in the writing of this post, which is a work of fiction.

History, Humor, Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge: With political cartoons less is more; Marshall McLuhan and Twitter

This week’s Weekly Writing Challenge posed the question: Are animated GIFs the stuff of junior high-school hijinks or, are they the political cartoons of the new millennium? What do you think? The simple answer is: they could be.

For me the key to a great editorial cartoon is simplicity; if the reader has to sift through large blocks of text then the essence of the cartoon is lost. In fact the art work is secondary to the message in many cases.

With newspapers cutting back or getting rid of their paper editions and moving to online publications it only seems natural that GIFs could play a role in editorial cartooning as they force the author to keep it simple.


And yet are we on a “less is more” downward spiral? Computers are smaller, phones are smaller, all fine when you’re talking physicality, but content is shrinking as well. My middle-aged mind has a tough time watching the rapid-fire angle changes used on MTV; slow down and let me catch up! Sometimes a little bit more is better.

Marshall McLuhan once famously opined “The medium is the message”. This statement has been discussed and dissected for years, but one thing is certain, it’s a great saying not only for its profundity, but because at 25 characters it fits nicely in a Tweet and even left McLuhan room for a few hash tags!

Weekly Writing Challenge

Weekly Writing Challenge; A picture is worth 1,000 words (or 973 words Canadian)

Regarding this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge, I agree that a picture is worth a thousand words, that’s one thousand US words of course. Based on today’s exchange rate that comes to 973 Canadian words here in Montreal.

The gentleman in the picture looks like he wants to be there about as much as he wants to have a colonoscopy. Something he should consider having done as he looks to be approaching the age where screening is recommended; but I digress. This attitude is reflected in the way he’s holding the children’s hands; he’d be more comfortable hanging on to electric eels. Did I just mention colonoscopy and electric eels in the same paragraph?

So what would make a man stand still for such a photo while looking so very uncomfortable about it? My hunch is guilt. This guy has clearly been caught with his hand in some sort of cookie jar. Tax evasion; nope, he’d be having two photos – one from the front and one from the side and a big number in across the bottom. An affair with another woman; I don’t think so, he looks like he’s been caught doing that too many times for it to bother him.

No, he’s done something heinous; he’s been caught doing something so close to being unforgivable that he’s now facing a situation with no alternative other than to pose for this picture.  That’s the only viable explanation there can be.

Yes, after examining the look of utter disgrace and shame on his face it is plainly evident, there can be no question about it; this man is guilty of having entered a WordPress Weekly Writing Challenge that strongly suggested thousand word entries would be appropriate and he only wrote 290 words.

Uncategorized, Weekly Writing Challenge

Montreal’s foliage fades to grey, but an exhibit of Impressionism ensures not all color is lost

In the description of this week’s Weekly Writing Challenge: A Splash of Color reference is made to the stunning colors of the foliage here in north-eastern North America. In Montreal, perhaps due to our being a little farther north those vibrant reds and yellows have pretty much reached their peak and are quickly fading to shades of grey (at least fifty I’m told) and brown as the daylight hours shorten and winter threatens.

But just in time to avert an early onset of Seasonal Affective Disorder, another spectacular splash of color has arrived in town with the opening of a new exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine ArtsOnce Upon a Time… Impressionism – Great French Paintings from the Clark. More gentle and pastel in nature than the changing foliage, these colors are well-known even to non-art buffs. Included in the pieces that make up the exhibition are works by Pierre Bonnard, Edgar Degas, Paul Gauguin, Édouard Manet, Camille Pissarro and Toulouse-Lautrec, as well as twenty-one canvases by Pierre-Auguste Renoir.

Claude Monet, Impression, soleil levant, 1872

Impressionism has long been one of my favorite genres primarily for its colors and use of light. In contrast to the sharp and vivid colors of the post-impressionists, impressionist painters often used color in a washed out style  in their works resulting in a softer depiction of landscapes and people. Less attention to detail and more focus on the overall impression gave the style its name.

Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Le Moulin de la Galette

I have to admit I always look to see if Rod Stewart is in the Renoir as he used a modified version for his A Night on the Town album cover.

So bring on the long white nights of winter; at least a little solace can be sought in the warm colors of the Impressionist masters. As I’ve yet to visit the exhibition I don’t know if any of the works I have depicted here are included,  they are just a few of my favorites